Famous Probate Cases

Instructor: Deona Cureton

I have taught honors English in high school, have an BA in Political Science and English, Master's in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, and completing my PhD in Public Administration & Policy with a concentration in Law & Public Policy

In society, we have always read about probate cases of the deceased rich and famous, but might not have known why probate cases occur. In this reading, you will learn what defines a probate case and you will learn about several famous probate cases and their stipulations.


While waiting in line at Target, you begin to peruse the tabloid section of magazines located beside the candy section in the aisle. An In Touch Weekly magazine catches your eye because on the front cover it's discussing one of your favorite celebrity couples' latest woes in dealing with the actor husband's late father's estate. As you begin to flip through the pages to read the article really quick, the article discusses the latest allegations among siblings and numerous ex-wives as they all attempt to claim their portion on the deceased's estate. The article continues to discuss the rumors and legalities associated with the deceased celebrity's probate case battle. But what is a probate case?

Probate Cases: Definition

A probate case is a case in which a deceased person's will, property/properties, and all assets are distributed among the deceased's heirs and devisees. An heirs is a direct relative or person who in entitled to property and devisees are people who receive real estate property from deceased people/relatives' wills. During the process of resolving probate cases, if a will is left behind, one would think that it is a simple and easy process to determine who is now in possession of the items. However, there have been numerous examples of wills being contested due to heirs not agreeing with the deceased's stipulations laid out in the will. Below are examples of famous probate cases.

Probate Cases: Famous Cases

Jay Pritzker, one of the founders of the Hyatt hotel chain in 1957, built a $15 billion fortune from his hotel brand. In 1999, after he died, the remaining Pritzker family members were supposed to manage and run the business as a family business and continue the empire of the Hyatt chain. However, in 2002, two of Jay Pritzker's grandchildren- Liesel and Matthew Pritzker, who are sister and brother, filed a lawsuit against Robert Pritzker, who was their father, and their other relatives. They claimed that roughly $1 billion had been unlawfully removed from their trust funds. In 2005, the lawsuit was finally settled, having both Liesel and Matthew receiving $500 million. The monies received in the lawsuit also gave up any other claims on other family assets. The remainder of the family's assets were divided between the other 11 relatives.

In probate cases, families have a tendency to play ~

John Seward Johnson was another millionaire whose family became engulfed in a ''tug-of-war''battle over his estate. John S. Johnson I, was one of the sons of the late co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson brand, Robert Wood Johnson I. When John S. Johnson I, died in 1983 of prostate cancer, he left majority off his millions to his third wife, Barbara Piasecka, who was the former maid and 42 years younger than her late husband. John S. Johnson I's children arguably contested this immediately after it occured, making the claim that Barbara Piasecka abused her husband and coerced him into leaving her majority of his money. Three years later and $10 million in legal fees, a judge finally agreed with Johnson's children, stating that he was not mentally competent when he signed his will and the judge ordered Barbara Piasecka to pay Johnson's children the sum of $160 million.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account